Where is the Land of Israel?
By Diane Weber Bederman, Israel Forever Blogger
Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail opined on the “situation” in Israel. He is nostalgic for the Rabin years “to bring things back to pre-1967 normalcy.” It would be “a solution based on mutual compromise, ratified in the Oslo accords of 1993 and 1995.”
Jews are accused of taking land from the Arabs, that they are interlopers in Palestine; when in fact, the Jewish people are the owners of the land. They are accused of causing the breakdown in the “friendship” between Jews and Arabs as a result of the partition of Palestine (1947) In the July 1937 Peel Commission Report , the British wrote “The Arabs throughout their history have not only been free from anti-Jewish sentiment but have also shown that the spirit of compromise is deeply rooted in their life.” I have dispelled the fallacy of Arab friendship in previous articles: “Intolerance in the DNA” and “Who will Save the Christians in the Middle East?” Now it is time to dispel the myth of the Jews as interlopers in Israel.
Jews have been in the land of Israel-Palestine-for more than 3300 years. Those ancient boundaries were re-confirmed in Italy 1920, when the Allied Powers passed the San Remo Resolution which designated “The Jewish Homeland” as “the landmass on the West Bank of the Jordan River all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the landmass on the East Bank of the Jordan River, an area known as Trans-Jordan. The British called the entire area ‘Palestine.’”
For Mr. Saunders the death of Rabin and the election of Mr. Netanyahu destroyed “this path to Israel’s normalization.” He has been captured by the lies that have taken hold in the collective conscious of far too many journalists, pundits and opinion makers undermining their reporting on the events on the Middle East. July 24, 1922, the League of Nations, entrusted Britain as the Mandatory Power (an International trusteeship) with “full powers of legislation and of administration” over Palestine.
“The Mandate specifically referred to “the historical connections of the Jewish people with Palestine” and to the moral validity of “reconstituting their National Home in that country.” It also made the British “responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home,” as according to the Balfour Declaration of November 1917.
But the British broke the covenant. The Arabs were murdering Jews and their Jew-hatred prevented any co-operation. So land for peace began. The Jewish Homeland of Palestine was divided; land east of the Jordan was summarily taken away and given to the Arabs. Then the rest of Jewish Palestine was divided, leaving Israel a sliver of the promised land.
How many reporters know that the vast majority of Jews in Israel at the time of the1948 partition were Sephardic; Jews from Arab countries who had lived in the area for thousands of years?
“‘Jason of Cyrene’ wrote a five-volume work about Palestine, where he arrived during the Hasmonean Revolt (167-160 BCE).
The pilgrimages to Jerusalem by Libyan Jews were recorded in the Bible, as was the Jerusalem synagogue that was named after them. ‘Simon the Cyrenian’ was one of many of the Libyan pilgrims who remained in Jerusalem. It was Simon who was reported by the New Testament to have been ‘a chance passerby just arrived from the country’ who ‘was forced to take part in the crucifixion.’”
In 1165, Benjamin of Tudela, the renowned Spanish traveler reported that although the Crusaders had almost “wiped out” the Jewish communities of Jerusalem, Acre, Caesarea and Haifa, some Jews remained, and whole “village communities of Galilee survived.”
In 1561, “Suleiman gave Tiberias, one of the four Jewish holy cities, to a former ‘secret’ Jew from Portugal, Don Joseph Nasi, who rebuilt the city and the villages around it.”
Islamic-born Jewish immigration to Israel had been continuous but intensified after the Spanish Inquisition of 1492. Jewish life continued to thrive in 1518 three years after Ottoman(Muslim) rule began, even in Hebron, where “the prosperous Jewish community ... had been plundered, many Jews killed and the survivors forced to flee.” By 1540, Hebron’s Jewry had recovered and reconstructed its Jewish Quarter. The people of the book established the first Jewish printing press outside Europe, in Safed in 1563.
Napoleon Bonaparte launched his campaign to conquer Palestine in 1799 with a pledge to “restore the country to the Jews.”
A dispatch from the British Consulate in Jerusalem in 1839 reported that “the Jews of Algiers and its dependencies, are numerous in Palestine. . .“W. T. Young, British Consul in Jerusalem, 1839 noted “The mode of conducting Jewish affairs among themselves ... is entirely in Hebrew, which ancient custom they are very tenacious of and desirous to maintain.”
In the 1800’s Lord Lindsay wrote: “The Jewish race, so wonderfully preserved, may yet have another stage of national existence opened to them, may once more obtain possession of their native land. . . . The soil of “Palestine still enjoys her sabbaths, and only waits for the return of her banished children, and the application of industry, commensurate with her agricultural capabilities, to burst once more into universal luxuriance, and be all that she ever was in the days of Solomon.”
Sir John William Dawson noted in 1888, “No nation has been able to establish itself as a nation in Palestine up to this day…no national union and no national spirit has prevailed there. The motley impoverished tribes which have occupied it have held it as mere tenants at will, temporary landowners, evidently waiting for those entitled to the permanent possession of the soil.”(Emphasis mine)
In 1918, nearly half of the total Jewish population in Jerusalem continued to be Sephardic Jews. And the vast majority of hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing from Arab persecution at that time found their safe haven in Israel.
The Reverend James Parkes, an authority on Jewish/non-Jewish relations in the Middle East, assessed the Zionists’ “real title deeds” in 1949.
“It was, perhaps, inevitable that Zionists should look back to the heroic period of the Maccabees and Bar-Cochba, but their real title deeds were written by the less dramatic but equally heroic endurance of those who had maintained the Jewish presence in The Land all through the centuries, and in spite of every discouragement…It was only politically that the Jews lost their land… despite ‘physical violence against Jews and pagans’ by the post-Roman Christians, more than forty Jewish communities survived and could be traced in the sixth century—‘twelve towns on the coast, in the Negev, and east of the Jordan [land that was part of the Palestine Mandate, called Transjordan in 1922, and declared the ‘Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’ only thirty-odd years ago] and thirty-one villages in Galilee and in the Jordan Valley.’ Jews from Gaza, Ramle, and Safed were considered the ‘ideal guides’ in the Holy Land in the fourteenth century, as Jacques of Verona, a visiting Christian monk, attested. The Christians had ‘noted the long established Jewish community at the foot of Mount Zion, in Jerusalem.’”
The British broke the trusteeship and changed the borders. Here it is 70 years later and Israel and the Jewish people are still fighting for the land that was given to them. These negotiations to which our enlightened media refer never bring peace because the Arabs in the area don’t want peace-they want Israel. They say so all the time. When journalists like Doug Saunders in The Globe and Mail wax poetic over the Rabin years, exasperated with Netanyahu for refusing a ” negotiated path to safety and security” and instead being bent on ” only absolute, unreachable conditions” it is because they have not availed themselves of the facts on the ground; from past to present.
The borders of the land of Israel, the only Jewish state in the world, have been whittled away since the 1920 designated boundaries. And apparently that’s okay. I have often wondered if Israel had been declared a Christian state, would the Christians be forced to forever give land for peace that never comes.
Diane Weber Bederman graduated from university with degrees in science and the humanities. Her love of religion led her into a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Toronto Hospital. Living with mental illness prompted her to write, produce and narrate The Many Voices of Mental Illness, a six part radio series podcast on her website The Middle Ground, The Agora of the 21st Century at www.dianebederman.com where she also writes about religion, ethics and politics. She is a passionate advocate for Israel. She wrote for Huffington Post Canada, and now contributes to Convivium Magazine, Times of Israel and CanadaFreePress.